Road Trips

Dubai - New Fujairah Road Route

December 17, 2011

This blog had a sudden surge in hits from searches on the new road to Fujairah through Maleha Road, and that gave us a cue where to head this weekend -- off for a lunch buffet at Fujairah Rotana with our 2011 Entertainer voucher before it expires end of this month.

We started through E11, or from Ittihad Road, but we thought this is a longer route after we came back to Dubai through the By Pass Road, which took considerably shorter time and avoiding the usual traffic at National Paints roundabout.


ROUTE TO THE NEW FUJAIRAH ROAD FROM DUBAI

  • Coming from the Deira Clock Tower, head towards Airport Road.
  • After the Rashidiya Metro Station, get straight up the bridge, then down to Emirates Road towards Sharjah.
  • As you approach the National Paints Bridge, take right, do not go up.
  • Taking right before National Paints Bridge and down before the roundabout, be careful not to go straight, but take the road to the right, signposted as Maleha Road.
  • Keep driving straight along Maleha Road for around 54 kilometers from the National Paints Roundabout before you need to get up the interchange to take you on the new road .  Here are some guides to spot the interchange, aside from the sign posts: Soon as you see the first hills/ mountains, you'd see a petrol station,  the Maleha Interchange, then Maleha Hospital.
  • From Maleha Hospital, stay on the right lane as you are approaching Exit 47. Take right at Exit 47, go up left through the interchange and voila! you're on for a smooth three-lane drive along Shaikh Khalifa Road - the new Fujairah road.
From Exit 47, it's 39 kilometers towards Fujairah's oblong roundabout. On a 100-130 kph speed, we clocked 23 minutes.

FUJAIRAH -  DUBAI 

Going back to  Dubai,  we headed back to the oblong roundabout ( :-) the shape I guess makes it peculiar and the best way to identify for those who doesnt know its name (like me!)).  We took the exit to the "Dubai" signpost.
  • Get past the first intersection. You know you're not lost when you see the Fujairah City Center (still under construction as of this writing) at your right. 
  • You approach a roundabout, then take left. 
  •  From the roundabout, get right on the start of the Shaikh Khalifa highway.
  • After some 35 kilometers, you are now to take a right back on Maleha Road
On Maleha Road, you have the option to head straight to National Paints Roundabout, (which we don't recommend if going back to Dubai and you're avoiding traffic), or through By Pass Road. If deciding on the By Pass Road:
  • At Maleha Road, slow down and keep right soon as you see signs of Jebel Ali/ Abu Dhabi, and By Pass Road. Take right and up the interchange.
  • Now at the six-laned By Pass Road, you would see the Burj Khalifa on your right as you advance. You are now driving in parallel with Emirates Road.
  • Exiting to Deira, take right to the signpost of Al Khawaneej.
  • Keep driving straight until you reach the roundabout that points left to Deira. 
  • You're led to take right then straight until you cross the interchange above Emirates Road. You're now on the Airport Road.  
The reason for the drive
  

All about our Superman

Of Assignments

December 06, 2011

One of the Gremlin's assignments - Merry Christmas!

Can you know online if my irritability has something to do with my pregnancy? I asked my husband this morning. Jokingly he asked back "Arent you that way everyday?"

As much as I am avoiding rants in this blog, I just cant withhold it. I don't mind being irritated, if only there's not a Little Precious One in my tummy whom his sibling whispered to me "Mama, are you not hurting Ading too, because if you get mad, she will feel it?" (Ading refers to a younger sibling)

(PS - I cant get much help from the Gremlin's dad who's based in a nearby country who flies in and out during weekends only -- who because of my rants, thought of resigning to rejoin us. Also, there are instances of after work stress, hence tired to spend the night doing assignments after cooking dinner and packing next day lunch.)

My frustration on the Gremlin's schooling is at its peak yesterday and today. It's 10:49pm and he just hit bed after 2.5 hours of doing his home works, and much of them I'd say is worked on 'blindly' because he just copied what I wrote as answers.

ASSIGNMENTS:
  • On occasions the Gremlin seem to have not learned/ understood underlying lessons to his assignments, we just photocopy his questionnaire, and let him copy what we write as answers. If it's a reasonable lesson he understands, he participates in answering it. Most of his assignments seem advanced and that there's not much sign that the teacher is really discussing it adequately in class if I am to rely on his book activities. His book activities are mostly not answered, and if they were, the Gremlin only gets half as correct - where the half are 100% guessing it seems. And rarely does his books have check marks, I mean rarely does the teacher inspect the answers.
  • I just can not count how much of his assignments are the so called parents' assignments, or those that we need to source out.  How many are "... cut pictures of this and that" and we parents google them as soon as the child is put to sleep. Or those that says "... bring this and that to school" that we need to scamper out to buy. 

I came to a point of asking, is it valid to say we pay for our children's education so that the institution let them learn how to read and write, and home learning would only be supplemental, and not the other way around?   When we spent 2.5 hours today for assignments, it was just for the Gremlin to copy my answers, and it I did not really have time to explain why and how. If I still had let him understand, I surmise we have spent 5 hours learning? If only one of us his parents does not work, then might as well, we put him into home schooling, and save on tuition fees as well as frustrations on school expectations.

Looking back at my education back home (I had elementary education in a CAtholic school then), I now appreciate how much better it was. If only we could send our son to study there... Or yet, I miss how the Gremlin has been well attended to by his teacher last year in KG 2, who along with teaching him the start of reading and writing, she also showed care and affection, having to hug my kid whenever he gets frustrated.

Kalel Wears Kandoora to School

December 02, 2011


In honor and gratitude to our host country, the Kalel wore a Kandoora (a white cloak used by male UAE nationals) accented by a cap and silk shawl in UAE flag colors  to school during their UAE National Day celebration. The United Arab Emirates marks its 40th year today since its  formation as a country .

"National Day is celebrated on the 2nd of December each year in the United Arab Emirates. It marks the UAE's formal independence from the United Kingdom and the eventual unification of the seven emirates in 1971 which combined to form the modern-day country.
On 2 December 1971, all emirates except for Ras Al Khaima, united as a country at the suggestion of H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, H.H. Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, and his other brothers, the rulers of other emirates. Ras Al Khaima joined later as a part of the country. Qatar and Bahrain were also suggested to be a part of the country but they declined the idea.
" (Source: Wikipedia)


Sunset at Dubai Silicon Oasis

November 30, 2011

It took me a full year at Dubai Silicon Oasis to re-learn that the sun rises and sets at and from different locations during the year.

Around summer, a rounded sun sets down just beside the spiked cone of the Pineapple building from my workstation angle. The cold months are here and I missed to take a photo of that beautiful summer view. Save for next summer, so here's a November sunset photo of Pineapple building for now . 



This alley below too, has the setting sun's beautiful golden hue peeking out given the right timing, which also remains on my wishlist to capture: 


UAE - Dubai

Global Village 2011- 2012

November 29, 2011


2011 Entry fee : AED 10/ person. 
Duration:  1st Nov 2011 to 3rd Mar 2012 (website)
Timings: 4pm to 12mn , Monday is family day (website)

Dubai Global Village is an annual fair revolving on the one-world-one-place  concept providing a quick insight of the participating countries' architecture, cultures and products.  






There’s always a magic at Dubai's Global Village that pulls us to check it yearly even when we don’t shop nor scour inside each of the pavillions. I recall that I loved it when I first visited in 2004. A greater proportion of each country’s booth were manned by its nationals selling their own products (as against seeing Chinese products displayed in most of the booths); more pavilions ran regular cultural shows in their own stages; and there were  more participating countries with facades seemingly engaged in a race on which was the most passionately built.





How to get there:
It is located along Emirates Road (E311).  I suggest aiming to immediately enter Emirates Road rather than aiming to drive in parallel along Ras Khail, a newbie on this road runs the risk of missing the right exit. Once we wasted 75 kilometers and an hour finding our way out. From Sharjah and Mirdiff City Center, keep driving past pineapple building at Silicon Oasis (on your left) and before you reach the interchange at Motor City (that’s kilometers apart). It’s signposted so it’s easy to find.

Parking:
It’s great to arrive at 4pm to get a space near the entrance. There’s a sea of cars in the evening so note where you park. Once, our friend took an hour locating his car at 12 midnight.

What to see and do:
Shopping, dining, cultural shows, boat rides, other fun rides


Personally, our annual visit always include the following: (1) check the Philippine pavilion’s theme for the year; (2) indulge in a food trip at Thailand Pavilion and exit with a bagful of dried fruits; (3) move at fast pace to take photos of the pavilions before sunset; (4) catch cultural shows.

More updates and info is available at their website: http://globalvillage.ae/

Do check my other photos here AT FACEBOOK.

Pigging Out

Sumo Sushi Al Qasba is Preggy Friendly

November 27, 2011


Sushi is generally associated to raw fishes and creates a general notion that it is a no-no during pregnancy. I would not take the risk even when few argue otherwise. But there's still a way around it, sushi minus the raw fish is still sushi for me, at this era when sushi has evolved to cater to other non-Japanese patrons.    

Big Gremlin's typical plate
 My husband and I love sushi and we mostly satisfy our cravings during Sumo Sushi's Friday AED88 buffets either at Al Qasba or their Garhoud branches. I wouldn't let him suffer (naks!) at the expense of my pregnancy knowing that the weekly buffets include non-raw servings of tempura, teriyaki, katsu, yakisoba and fried rice plus miso soup and a little of fresh cucumbers, lettuce and tomato slices.

A ten-stars compliment to Sumo for this voluntary complement for a preggy patron.
 What's more was a pleasant surprise when a staff brought over our table a non-raw-fish maki prepared ala-katsu sushi (don't know its name, sorry :-) ) just because I was over the sushi table asking which ones are preggy-friendly. I did not request yet they made a 'customised' sushi for me :-)

Oman

Another Oman Road Trip

November 26, 2011

Oman's got three-day holiday this week so the Big Gremlin is with us over the weekend. It's funny how we delight when we both can have two consecutive days of coinciding days in a week to be together.  You see, UAE weekends are Fridays and Saturdays while Oman has Thursdays and Fridays.

This weekend, we drove to Oman as planned, leaving early Friday and back home Saturday night, clocking 1,110 kilometers.

The drive's goal was to visit Al Hoota Cave. This is our second time in the area. On the first drive  in March this year, we needed to call off Al Hoota Cave when we got too scared then to get caught driving at night in an unfamiliar  single carriage-way-no-light-posts-no-center-island road for the expected next 300 kilometes drive before we reach Al Ain border (it turned out that that scenario was only about half of the way).

Also planned was to spend Friday night at a  hotel (rather than drive straight 145 kilometers to Big Gremlin's quarters in Muscat) so we could go roam other Nizwa, Jibreen and Bahla forts/ castles/ wadis. But with the long exhausting drive and our failed expectation on Al Hoota Cave, we decided to leave for Muscat right after the visit. 

This post has nothing against Al Hoota Cave. The cave is a wonder in its own right for the region. However, I guess it becomes a lot different when one expects a lot in exchange of travelling six hours (including 1.5 hours traversing Al Ain roundabouts and stoplights and 30 minutes border formalities), 410 kilometers from Dubai and paying AED 55 cave entry fee per adult, one expects a big reward at the end of the tunnel. For someone like us from the Philippine mountains who explored the magnificent Sagada Cave, and many other caves we are taking for granted, our reward was to realize to take pride, love and care of our home resources, as how Oman is preserving the 'inactive' Al Hoota Cave. It's overwhelming how the Omani invested US$ 5.7m to develop the cave for tourism purposes, and properly mans it to ensure its preservation.

- - - - - -

We sure love long road trips but somehow we say enough when our interests and curiousity wanes down for a certain place. Either interest or curiosity make us return to a place twice. Road trips are mostly not comfort-based activities hence we make it a point to infuse something relaxing in it. To make up for the Al Hoota Cave exhaustion, we drove to Qantab beach the next day and took a chartered boat ride (photos in another post).

- - - - - -

Driving from Dubai to Muscat via Al Ain - Al Dhakiliya is long and tiring which we dont plan to doing again soon:

  • 2.5 hours to reach the Mezyad border from Dubai, mainly due to Al Ain's stop lights and round abouts, (that's about 1.5 hours granting you have a map and a little acquantance of Al Ain). Dubai to Hatta Border is only an hour drive.
  • This route is costlier at 3 hours and more than 200 kms longer compared to Dubai - Hatta- Sohar - Muscat.
  • Much of the roadside is barren compared to the greener Sohar roadside.

If there's something to go back to Dhakiliya Region, I guess it will be a mountain retreat at Jabal Akhdar. 

Thinking Out Loud

Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited

November 19, 2011

My husband rarely do window shopping, and when he does, he rarely (can) spend.

We were too early for the Global Village's opening last weekend hence we detoured by Jeep's showroom along Festival Center to check an item on his wishlist - a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, one for his dream drive - to climb the high desert dunes.  Of course, we're far off able to affording one.

Interested how much it costs now (as of 2nd week of Nov11) here in the Sandpit?





Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited - AED 134,900 / USD 36,700

Jeep Wrangler Sport Limited - AED 89,900 / USD 24,500

Jeep Wrangler Sahara Limited - AED 107,900 / USD 29,400
Tags: How much does a Jeep cost in Dubai?

Buying a new Jeep, anyone? Or shall I say, wishing for a Jeep?

UAE - Sharjah

Qanat Al Qasba at Night

November 19, 2011

Sumo Sushi's Friday Buffets (served between 12 noon to 4pm at AED 88 per adult) always prompt us to frequent Al Qasba in Sharjah. But a few Fridays back, we lounged cozily with the  perfectly pleasant weather and unknowingly we had stayed until sunset. We had to transfer from Sumo to Dunkin' Donuts on the other side.

As the Gremlin delighted running around and his dad giving him company once in awhile, I savoured the sunset and night views to practice night photography. See my tries below, isn't it inviting  trying your lens there too?




The Gremlins in the boat that went along the corniche (beach) and the canal.


From our seat in front of Dunkin Donuts.

WHERE TO GO IN SHARJAH

Al Qasba is one of Sharjah's landmarks. It's not much of a space, but there are a number of activities apart from dining, including the boat ride, Eye of the Emirates ride and for kids the play area and the small water fountain.

From Al Qasba, the Sharjah Aquarium  is a nearby  drive.  It is located near a beach and a marina where jetskiiing and fishing by rods and boats are a sight. A 'heritage village' of sort, composed of ancient/ historical houses is undergoing restoration.

Philippines - Baguio

Kalei's Grill in La Trinidad, Benguet

November 19, 2011

Scouting for casual dining places at night in La Trinidad (Benguet) without being tempted to just instead drive to the city, could be challenging for those finding an alternative to Jack's and Marosan's  and for those who want to eat in comfort minus being seated near tables of alcoholic drinks patrons.  Establishments close early , so our alternative fastfood meals at Pines Supermart's  Calajo or just Tiongsan's Greenwich are but closed, unless we decide to pop in at  Km5's Jollibee or McDonalds. 

My brothers suggested Kalei's Grill along Km.4. All the while I thought this was a pub with live bands playing at night, and would later know it has two sections with adjacent entrances  - the pub and the casual dining resto.

The resto has a  traditional western tavern ambiance infused with some local (Igorot) accent as influenced by the country-music-loving market.   

I'd say there's enough on the menu to offer.  

I did not note the dish but it sure has wine.


The white sugar served in unsealed small plastic made me smile



The interiors give a mixed impressions of sorts. An Igorot deerhunter accent is added to the cowboy-cum western fisherman's haven feel.

Thinking Out Loud

Fourteen Years and the nth bouquet

November 12, 2011

"Ate, may delivery ka" came the other end of the line, the Reception. I was not expecting any delivery but as I advance out, I  felt a wee nervous realizing it must be the husband bringing me flowers at work! And I was not wrong!


Last week's occasion was something we had always overlooked in recent years with the coming of our son and with putting our Church wedding anniversary a greater importance. It was a celebration of thanksgiving especially of having a blessed relationship and union since then.
Heavenly Father,
Thank you for blessing me with the love of a man who despite my imperfections, remains steadfast in letting me hold You. Please bless him as You bless me.
Please guide us as we share these blessings to others too.
Yours lovingly,
His Wife

All about our Superman

A Patriotic Gremlin and his Lupang HInirang - 2011.11.11

November 12, 2011

The Gremlin attends a Filipino school here in Dubai, hence the daily singing of the Philippine Anthem (I suppose).

Once in a while, he would browse youtube listening to Lupang Hinirang versions. He loves singing along, even when his lyrics are still lost somewhere. We took a video of his progress yesterday, which I uploaded on youtube today with the note:

Nah, this is not to make the Gremlin a laughing stock, in fact, we are glad that our patriotic five-year old has a bit improved in singing the Philippine Anthem, despite that he doesnt speak Tagalog/ Filipino to date. 
Yes, we hide our giggles as he sings, but behind us is our gladness in his progress. :-)



Oman

And it's a rainy Muscat

November 04, 2011

Rains are un-usually heard of in the desert, and if it rains people rejoice -- unless it starts to become disastrous to the sandpit whose systems are not prepared to flooding and whatever brought by raining.

Dubai is yet to get its share of drizzles this time of the year, but near or along the Hajar mountain ranges (Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Oman), rains started pouring in October.

On Wednesday (first week of November), the Big Gremlin waded in Muscat's afternoon rains. He reached their villa drenched and with shoes on hand as puddles covered the streets. The amount of rains that day was like a typical subtropical afternoon rain in Baguio (Philippines). Tuesday was bearable just with 'strong' drizzles.

Rains in Muscat



Tunnels that are on lower elevation are prone to 'flooding', such as this in Muscat
With the Big Gremlin working in Muscat now, I pray that the most he'd witness be limited to his light experiences so far, and not a repeat of Cylone Gonu (in 2007, the strongest tropical cyclone on record in the Arabian Sea) that brought forth substantial damage as below:


 (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)



(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

It's Eid Al Adha here in the sandpit and most are taking advantage of the long weekend break. Pleasant weather has now kicked in, and if not that I'm on pregnancy-induced-laziness mode, we would have pushed through with our planned Oman drive via Al Ain - Buraimi - Ibri - Nizwa - Muscat route to see more of those we missed earlier (more wadis, historical sites, Al Hoota Cave and Jabal Akhdar part 2). But with rains currently in season, it becomes risky getting into wadis (dried river beds) on chances of sudden gushing of water. So to those travelling offroad now - stay safe. 

All about our Princess

Tummy Tales -- 11th to 12th Weeks

October 21, 2011



I have just crossed 12 weeks (1st trimester) on the pregnancy scale, which is an exciting-looked-forward period for me! That’s when the early pregnancy discomforts are said to shy away. Oh, those times of eternally feeling hungry but feeling nauseaus at the sight and smell of food!

I have my constant pee visits, not that I feel the need, but my son wiggles three times nightly and is relunctant to stand until I pull him out the bed. I dislike now this exercise though when my pregnancy hormones make me a light sleeper. I fear unable to go back sleep and be groggy at work next day. Once it took me at 3am to get my sleep when I was already in bed at 10pm.

I was at the doctor last weekend (11 weeks) and had another ultrasound. I would have declined feeling I am having an ultrasound overdose, but I agreed being excited to show my Gremlins our Little Precious One swimming in my tummy as the doctor assured it’s now visible.

Now I forgot how I felt uncomfy with the doctor’s knowledge on operating the ultrasound machine during my first visit (she seemed to be at at her late 30’s though), kept asking help from the nurse (!) and eventually calling the other doctor. This recent ultrasound, she cannot  see any image from my tummy so she has to do  it from ‘down’ (again!). From ‘down’ she meant the vagi_ _.

On to the ultrasound. At 11 weeks, my expectations did not come full circle, not sure if it’s due to the doctor, the machine, or maybe Little Precious One is way small. During my Gremlin Kalel’s first trimester ultrasound, I was in tears of awe looking at his full body literally swimming on the screen. I did not want my Kalel and his dad to miss it this time, but they have yet to exactly experience it – hopefully next month’s ultrasound.

But Little Precious One didn’t totally disappoint. After about 20 minutes of trying the doctor found a partial view of moving limbs. We got to hear heartbeats too! So that made us happy. Even Kuya Kalel was acting out how Little Precious One was moving on the screen. Thing was, their dad missed to bring the camera cum video to record. Luckily, the clinic gave us a copy of three images, each on 3 seconds each. These were compiled below, and the best view would be on the 6th - 10th seconds:



I have done my blood and urine tests at 7th week, and so far so good. Last week, I declined a test:


Dr : Should I schedule you for a Nuchal Transluceny Scan?
Me:  Do I need it?
Dr:  I’ll take care of it. (Silence, senses I am more unwilling)
Me: My baby is normal and should be ok.
Dr: So you’ll continue with the pregnancy whatever it takes?
Me: Of course! I have a healthy baby!
Dr: That’s the spirit!

Not that I'm confident but I'm avoiding being too paranoid. I have faith in my baby, in my self, and all loving people around me. I have resigned on slowing down on everything and focus on healthily nurturing Little Precious One in my tummy.

By the way, Little Precious One is 4.61 cms at 11th weeks :-)

Thinking Out Loud

How cool can you be -- love proposal

October 19, 2011

Okay, I am married with a five year old Gremlin and another Little Precious One on the way, but the video below shared on cousin Geri's facebook account moved me, kilig pa rin ba :-) . (Dont get me wrong, My husband do surprise me once in awhile giving the same feeling as below, near tears, naks!)


It was an act 'supported' by the Marvels Dance Company, and oh boy, they seem to be gaining global attention now, of course online. The video has now reached two million plus hits and going, and their facebook page is receiving nice words. 

The kids looked much as Southeast Asians, and checking through their facebook info, some of the members' family names sound Filipinos. Way to go!

Oman

Oman's Bimmah Sinkhole On the Way to Sur

October 17, 2011

Any place of unique natural wonder or of historical story is attractive. On our first road trip to Oman, the Bimmah Sinkhole (a wide and deep natural inland 'hole' with salty water) and Bibi Maryam's Tomb (that's within the Ancient City of Qalhat, visited by Marco Polo and wrote about the place during the 13th century) were on our list.

From our google map prinout then, the place trickily seemed to be so near from Ruwi, Muscat. It turned out that it's actually more than 200 kilometers drive away. From our Al Suwayh offroad drive out to the highway, we unexpectedly realized we were near the  Sink Hole!

We missed the sign and had to go back. If you intend to go, turn in as soon as you read the sign 'Hawiyat Najm Park'.

When planning to take a dip, be prepared that shower water might not be available in the toilet.


The flights of stairs is tiresome, emphasizing how deep the hole is.

At the opposite side of the hole

The big Gremlin and his signature jump (I am in for an explaining on posting a tummy :-) )

Notice the fearless man jumping from the mid-upper middle, we witnessed two of them.


Do not miss this sign, it leads to the sink hole 

Philippines - Baguio

Oh My Gulay! sa Session Road

October 06, 2011



Baguio’s cool, overcast skies and rainy afternoon weather makes it so inviting to lounge in caf├ęs, especially in an artists’ haven that drifts you away from the bustles of the city when you’re actually in the heart of it.




Tucked at the top level of La Azotea building along Session Road in Baguio is Oh My Gulay – which on your first visit confuses you on your purpose of taking the flights of steps to the discreet resto, err, arts haven.




Owned by artist Kidlat Tahimik (Eric De Guia), the place is a mini- museum sort of intriguing visual arts.

For the food part, there’s just a limited choice on juices and coffee, salads and pastas and desserts(crepes). Some are so uniquely named in the menu as much as the atmosphere is. How about “Anak ng Putanesca” for your pasta? Menu below is on high resolution, you may click to enlarge






My tastebuds are now much inclined to simple, tangy and a bit bland food, ones where I can identify what’s been into the sauces and spices, so Oh My Gulay’s menu suits me.





It’s nice to come as a group to share plates. When sharing among three, a per person cost is around PhP 200. For the very hungry and voracious eater, you would need to spend more (or in our case, we trek up to SM for our main course, anything in OMG is our appetiser J).

In between waiting for the food and after, a tour around shows that much of the artistic displays are wooden sculptures that mirror the Ifugao skill in the region.






For more of above Oh My Gulay's photos overload, the resto is at the 5th floor of La Azotea building along Session Road in Baguio.

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